New York Nonprofit Donates $1 Million to Tulsa Race Massacre Survivors
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New York Nonprofit Donates $1 Million to Tulsa Race Massacre Survivors

Survivors Lessie Benningfield Randle, Viola Fletcher, and Hughes Van Ellis sing together at the conclusion of a rally commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre in June 2021. (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

The New York nonprofit Business for Good Foundation donated $1 million to the three survivors of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.

On Wednesday, a crowd of family, friends, and community members gathered at the Greenwood Cultural Center to witness the donation firsthand, KJRH reported. Business for Good Foundation founders, Ed and Lisa Mitzen, stressed how important it is to honor the survivors.

“They were clearly wronged,” Ed Mitzen said.

“I don’t think there is any argument about that and the fact that it was 101 years ago shouldn’t negate the fact that they were wronged.”

Viola Fletcher, 108, Lessie Benningfield Randle, 107, and Hughes Van Ellis, 101 were present for the donation that came one year after the centennial anniversary of the massacre they survived as children.

“We’re trying to extend their life and make them comfortable at their age,” Fletcher’s grandson, Ike Howard said.

“They want to go and see things. They want to go to historically Black colleges. They want to go to different events and do things. The mind is still fresh, but the body needs a little adjustment.”

Mitzen says he was inspired to give the donation to show the survivors that there are people who care and sympathize with their struggle.

“I felt a little frustration that it was so hard for these folks to try and get what it felt like they were entitled to,” Ed Mitzen said.

He and his wife didn’t learn about the massacre until a few years ago, CNN reported. The wealthy philanthropists decided to make the donation after reading about the ongoing lawsuit Tulsa survivors launched against the city of Tulsa.

The lawsuit, which a judge ruled earlier this month could move forward, seeks to create a special fund for survivors and descendants of the massacre that killed hundreds of Black residents and turned the once-thriving community into a hub of ashes.

“They had their homes destroyed, insurance claims denied. Whether it was 101 years ago or six months ago, it doesn’t change the fact that they were clearly wronged,” ED Mitzen said.

“We felt badly that they had to work so hard to try to get what we felt was an obvious thing that was owed to them.”

Ed Mitzen said the donation will also help the survivor’s great-grandchildren get through college.


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